While Android phones come in all sizes, shapes, and price points, there are still some that stand above the rest of the market by a wide margin. From the best foldable phones to the latest specs and software, these phones earn their flagship pricing and then some. Before you spend days wading through our exceptional reviews or press the trigger on that sweet Prime Day deal, let us first examine the best Android phones you can buy today.
For all intents and purposes, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is a Note in everything but name. Garaged S Pen back and clickier than ever? Check. Supersized screen with the fanciest features? 1700-nit bright check. Weird colors and shock-inducing price? Check and check! Despite the app throttling outrage around launch, the Galaxy S22 Ultra remains one of the most powerful Android phones available in Western markets. The new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset lends more than enough power to your gaming, productivity, or multi-tasking.
The Ultra's larger battery keeps it fed without begging for a charger mid-afternoon like its smaller siblings. The Ultra's lack of a cohesive camera module may be a dust-magnet turn off for some. Still, the pictures and 8K video you'll get out of these four cameras are award-worthy if you're willing to go Pro mode now and then when the automatic settings can't match your vision. $1,200 for a smartphone is a bit much, even among flagships, but you can't deny the hardware quality and Samsung's more full-featured approach to Android software with One UI 4.1.
One UI takes Material You and runs with it in slightly more refined and customizable ways than the Google Pixel series. The S22 Ultra also ties into Samsung's expansive ecosystem, from the Galaxy Watch4 to a bushel of Galaxy Buds and exclusive, extra-useful features on Windows Your Phone Companion that will let you see and control your phone from your laptop or desktop. It's definitely an investment, but as the S22 Ultra is slated to receive four platform updates and five years of security updates, this phone can last you half a decade so long as you take care of it.
- CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
- Display: 6.8-inch 1440 x 3088 OLED @ 120Hz
- RAM: 8,12 GB
- Storage: 128, 256, 512, 1024 GB
- Battery: 5,000mAh, max 45W charging, 15W wireless
- Operating System: Android 12 with One UI 4.1
- Front camera: 40MP f/2.2, 26mm
- Rear camera: 108 MP f/1.8 primary, 12 MP f/2.2 ultrawide, 10 MP f/2.4 3x telephoto, 10 MP f/4.9 10x telephoto,
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e; Bluetooth 5.2; 5G mmWave and sub6
- Dimensions: 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9 mm, 229 g
- Price: Starting at $1,199
- Superb display
- Great build quality
- The S Pen is back!
- Large enough to be awkward to handle
- Costs $1,200
- Doesn't come with a charger
Between a new, eye-catching design, the brand-new Google Tensor chipset, and the first actual camera upgrade in years, the $600 Google Pixel 6 seemed almost too good to be true when it launched. The out-of-box experience was steady, the dedicated AI cores made Google Assistant and voice typing in Gboard near-instantaneous, and the cameras reclaimed Google’s place as the gold standard of Android photography. The regular Pixel 6 lacks the telephoto sensor — that’s limited to the Google Pixel 6 Pro — but the main camera takes more true-to-life photos, especially for people of color who can get whitewashed by traditional smartphone camera processing.
The Pixel 6 was one of the first phones to ship with Android 12 and the new Material You, bringing us dynamically colored apps, widgets, and system elements. This made Android feel more personal than ever, and Pixel’s unbeatable software features like Call Screening and Hold for Me are addicting once you get a taste of them. Spam blockers on every other phone seem quaint after you use a Pixel. We mentioned earlier that the Pixel 6 seemed too good to be true, and while some severe bugs hit a minority of users, that delayed several updates over the last few months. Since the March 2022 update, however, the Pixel 6 series seems to have settled and squashed these issues. Good thing, too; I cannot live with Pixel Call Screening and Google’s higher compatibility with third-party launchers.
- CPU: Google Tensor
- Display: 6.4" 1080p OLED, 90Hz
- RAM: 8 GB
- Storage: 128 GB, 256 GB
- Battery: 4,614 mAh
- Operating System: Android 12
- Front camera: 8 MP f/2.0, 84° FOV
- Rear camera: 50 MP f/1.85, 82° FOV (primary); 12 MP f/2.2, 114° FOV (ultrawide)
- Dimensions: 6.2 x 2.9 x 0.4", 7.3 oz
- Colors: Stormy Black, Sorta Seafoam, Kinda Coral
- Price: Starting at $599
- Fantastic primary camera quality
- Great performance out of Google’s custom Tensor chip
- Android 12 with Material You is a treat
- Five years of security updates
- Lacks a telephoto camera
- Distracting glare in rear camera photos in certain conditions
- Fingerprint sensor is often slow
- Updates have been super-wonky
The Galaxy Z Fold3 is the most premium phone Samsung makes. It’s packed to the gills with cool features: a super-fast Snapdragon 888 paired with 12 gigs of RAM, two 120Hz displays, and S Pen support to fill that Note-shaped hole in your heart. Oh, and it unfolds into a 7.6-inch tablet. At least two of the AP staff call the Galaxy Z Fold3 “home,” and it’s easy to see why. Although the camera experience isn’t up to the standards of a Pixel 6 or Galaxy S22 Ultra, and battery life can feel shorter than smaller phones, the big screen and multitasking tools make for the most productive possible experience you can get in a smartphone. The extra space makes it much easier to stay organized and juggle multiple tasks simultaneously. And if play is more your style over work, the big screen offers a much better experience for watching content or playing games.
Early folding phones had durability concerns, but the technology has matured to the point that phones like this don’t need to be overly babied, even if they still aren’t as hardy as the standard glass and metal slabs on the rest of this list. Competing companies now offer devices that avoid the Z Fold3’s barely-visible crease, but Samsung’s software is still more compelling and easy to use. With all its flashy features and a starting MSRP of $1,800, it’s pretty much the definition of excess — but if you’ve got the cash, and you’re after the coolest possible phone, this one probably fits the bill.
- CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
- Display: 6.70-inch OLED @ 2268 x 832, up to 120Hz, 1,500 nits peak (external); 7.6-inch OLED @ 2208 x 1768, up to 120Hz, 1,200 nits peak (internal)
- RAM: 12 GB
- Storage: 256 GB, 512 GB
- Battery: 4,400 mAh dual-cell
- Operating System: Android 11 with One UI
- Front camera: 10MP f/2.2 (cover); 4MP f/1.8 (internal)
- Rear camera: 12MP f/1.8 main w/ OIS, 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide (123°), 12MP f/2.4 2x telephoto w/ OIS
- Dimensions: 128 x 158 x 6.4mm (unfolded); 67.1 x 158 x 16mm (folded); 271g
- Colors: Black, green, silver
- It’s a tiny pocket tablet!
- Snapdragon 888 + 12 gigs of RAM = fast phone
- Great displays, inside and out
- Security updates until 2025
- Interior selfie camera isn’t very good
- Middling battery life
- Really pricey
Google’s Pixel a-series phones have always been easy to recommend to “normal” people, and the Pixel 5a is no different. Performance is solid, cameras are almost as good as its premium predecessor the Google Pixel 5, and battery life is outstanding. Water resistance has finally come to the a-series with the 5a, and it still gives you a good old-fashioned headphone jack. You still get Google’s vision of Material You with the Android 12 update, and features like Call Screening, Hold for Me, and the auto-transcribing Pixel Recorder app are all here and ready to work for you. With the Pixel 6 sitting just overhead at $600, the Pixel 5a’s value proposition feels complicated, but availability is the bigger factor. The Pixel 5a only launched in two countries — the United States and Japan — and even in the United States, you can only buy it at one retailer: the Google Store. Not even carriers are selling it (besides Google Fi, because Google), carriers are still selling the 18-month-old Pixel 4a 5G.
- CPU: Snapdragon 765G
- Display: 6.34" 1080p OLED, 60Hz
- RAM: 6GB
- Storage: 128GB
- Battery: 4,680 mAh
- Operating System: Android 12
- Front camera: 8MP f/2 fixed-focus (83° FoV)
- Rear camera: 12.2MP f/1.7 wide-angle (77° FoV) 16MP F/2.2 ultra-wide (177° FoV)
- Dimensions: 156.2 x 73.2 x 8.8mm
- Price: $449
- Excellent battery life
- Great cameras for the price
- First Pixel a-series phone with rated water resistance (IP67)
- Software updates through August 2024
- It has a headphone jack
- Way bigger than the Pixel 4a
- The Snapdragon 765G is fine now, but we worry it may feel slow in a couple years
- Display is only 60Hz and not especially high-quality
- Very limited availability
The Galaxy Z Fold3 might be the darling of the foldable world with its tablet-sized inner screen and S Pen support, but it’s ridiculously huge in both size and price. The more practical, portable, and price-conscious foldable is, without a doubt, the Galaxy Z Flip3. Essentially a Galaxy S21+ that you can fold in half, the Z Flip3 brings back flip phones the right way: with style and stability. Sure, the cameras are a little behind Samsung’s slab-phone flagships, but it still takes more than adequate photos for sharing or documenting your life. Battery life also suffers a tiny bit from the more cramped flip phone form factor, but that’s why cute, pocket-friendly power banks exist.
Perhaps most importantly, you should buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 because it is the only flagship-quality Android phone that will fully fit into your pocket. Ladies, when was the last time you had a phone that you could put in your front pocket and still sit down without it popping out and onto the floor? The Z Flip3 can not only do this, but it also has a vast variety of clever cases with straps and keyrings to ensure that whenever you’re pulling the phone out, putting it away, or just reading on it in line, you won’t ever drop it.
- CPU: Snapdragon 888
- Display: 6.7" 1080p OLED, 120Hz
- RAM: 8 GB
- Storage: 128 GB, 256 GB
- Battery: 3,300 mAh
- Operating System: One UI over Android 11
- Front camera: 10MP f/2.4
- Rear camera: 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide (123°), 12MP f/1.8 main w/ OIS
- Connectivity: 5G (incl. mmWave), LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1 Supports eSIM and/or Nano-SIM
- Dimensions: Unfolded - 72.2 x 166 x 6.9mm Folded - 72.2 x 86.4 x 15.9-17.1mm 183g
- Colors: Cream, Green, Lavender, Phantom Black, Gray, White, Pink
- Folding novelty at a normal flagship price
- Great build quality
- Folds hamburger-style to better fit in your pockets
- Bad battery life
- Cameras can’t compete with the best in the business
- Charging speeds top out at 15 watts
The Pixel 6 Pro has all the software swank and design darling of the Pixel 6, plus hardware upgrades in three key areas. It has 12 gigs of RAM instead of eight, a larger 120Hz display instead of 90Hz, and a dedicated telephoto camera, plus a few smaller improvements like ever-so-slightly tighter haptics. The larger size makes it harder to handle, especially for those with smaller hands, but the Pixel 6 Pro earns its weight and then some.
Like the Pixel 6, the Pixel 6 Pro has seen some nasty bugs in the last six months, but Google seems to have finally ironed out most of the bugs between Android 12 and the Pixel 6 Pro's unique processor. Google Tensor is a brand new chipset, and Google’s still ironing a few things out. For the $600 Google Pixel 6, a few bugs here and there doesn’t sting nearly as much as a $900 phone, sometimes having things like Wi-Fi fail if you’re one of the unlucky ones who gets a bug. As Ryne put it, compared to the base Pixel 6, the 6 Pro is 50% more money for 15% more phone. Unless you positively need any of the Pro’s extra camera or that all-important 120Hz screen, the regular Pixel 6 is a better buy.
- CPU: Google Tensor
- Display: 6.7” QHD+ (1440x3120, 19.5:9) LTPO OLED, 120Hz, Gorilla Glass Victus
- RAM: 12GB
- Storage: 128, 256, or 512GB; UFS 3.1
- Battery: 5003mAh, 30W (USB PD PPS) wired charging, up to 23W wireless charging
- Ports: USB Type-C
- Operating System: Android
- Front camera: 11.1MP f/2.2 (94° FoV, fixed focus)
- Rear camera: 50MP f/1.85 primary (82° FoV w/OIS), 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide (114° FoV), 48MP f/3.5 telephoto (23.5° FoV w/OIS, 4x optical and up to 20x “Super Res Zoom”)
- Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, Ultra-Wideband
- Others: Polished aluminum frame, IP68, In-display fingerprint sensor, USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1, Dual-SIM via eSIM, reverse wireless charging
- Dimensions: 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm, 210 g
- Colors: Sorta Sunny, Cloudy White, and Stormy Black
- Price: Starts at $900
- The best camera setup on an Android phone today, including a great telephoto shooter
- Even better performance than the Pixel 6 with the same Tensor CPU and more RAM
- Google’s software is addictive, as is Android 12's Material You
- Five years of security updates
- A 50 percent price increase from the normal Pixel 6 for what many people would experience as a handful of marginal improvements
- Same slow fingerprint sensor as the Pixel 6
- Rear cameras also prone to glare in certain lighting
- Big bugs since launch, causing delay updates
What's the best Android phone you can buy?
Whether you prefer your phone big or small, complex or blessedly streamlined, there's a brilliant Android phone for you. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the most powerful phones Samsung has ever built, and beyond the S Pen support, the Ultra has significantly better battery life than its little brothers, the S22 and Galaxy S22+. The Galaxy S22 Ultra's cameras also go toe to toe with the Google Pixel 6 Pro and then some, offering a better wide-angle camera and deeper zoom capabilities alongside its smorgasbord of camera modes and settings.
As powerful as the S22 Ultra is, though, its productivity pales in comparison to the Galaxy Z Fold3, which even a generation behind in processing power offers double the screen when folded open into tablet mode. It has S Pen support, but it's not a built-in S Pen like the Ultra; instead, you can buy larger S Pens that actually feel comfortable to grip for hours on end. Samsung does foldables and foldable software better than anyone in the business, including Google, and the improvements made in Android 12L will help standardize app behaviors and improve performance even more.
If Samsung's software just isn't you — we totally understand that One UI is an acquired taste — the Google Pixel 6 is the first Pixel to feel like an honest-to-god flagship. Its eye-catching design and Cylon-esque camera bar are worlds better than the ommetaphobia-inducing camera setup on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, and the Pixel 6's processing magic saves shots that most phones end up junking due to blurs and missed focus.
Of course, if the $600 of the Pixel 6 seems a bit steep, the $450 Pixel 5a is far and away the best budget Android phone you can buy today. You get all the same Google Feature Drops and software perks as the Pixel 6 without the wonky update delays or growing pains of Google Tensor. You'll lose wireless charging, sure, but you'll keep the water resistance and the 5a actually has a headphone jack, something none of the premium flagships have offered for years.
Q: What are the most important things to look for in an Android phone?
It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the specifications and features thrown around in a phone's product listing or reviews. 100x zoom cameras, ultrasonic fingerprint sensors, S Pen stylus support, UWB, and the list goes ever on, but what do you actually need, and what’s just icing on the proverbial cake? There are four key features you should look at in a new phone — after you decide on your budget, of course.
- Software & updates
Why isn’t processor or RAM in here? In recent years, the power of smartphone chipsets has more or less leveled out, and even the performance gap between mid-range and premium chipsets has shrunk considerably.
In short, most phones in the same price bracket have the same level of performance, and in the flagship space, you’re already getting more memory than you probably need, too.
Q: What should you look for in a smartphone’s camera?
While the camera might not be the most important feature for some buyers, it’s a good indicator of overall speed, performance, and quality. For example, if a review mentions that the camera takes too long to open or too long between shots — such as on our Samsung Galaxy A53 review — when snapping multiple photos in succession, that’s a hint that the phone’s long-term performance might be more sluggish than what initial reviews indicate.
Camera speed becomes essential in many situations, such as grabbing a picture of a car fleeing an accident or capturing your daughter’s first steps. It’s also a good indicator of how your phone handles when under a heavy load. Camera features can also be vital depending on your use case. If you have small children or pets, you’ll want a camera that consistently does well with moving subjects. The Pixel 6’s Real Tone may appeal to users who despise their camera trying to whitewash them in every shot. If you go to concerts every weekend, you might care about zoom video and photography to get that perfect shot even when you’re twenty rows away.
Q: What matters most in a smartphone screen?
Most phones in 2022 come with screens in the 6.4 to 6.8-inch range, though aspect ratio certainly plays a role in how wide/narrow/tall/short a phone ends up feeling in your hand. If you prefer more petite devices, be prepared for a difficult search if you want to go smaller than the 6.1-inch Samsung Galaxy S22. Foldables like the Galaxy Z Flip3 offer us a compact form factor in our pockets but a large screen when we want to scroll through our feed, so it’s a worthwhile compromise.
There are three other screen features to consider: curved screens, high refresh rates and maximum brightness. Curved screens can look lovely, but it’s often harder for tempered glass screen protectors to fit on them — and they can also be harder to grip without accidental touches. Some prefer the more seamless look of curved while others like the flat displays (and the lower price they often come with).
Flat or curved, refresh rates are now a feature to check whether you’re spending $200 or $1200 on new phones. The high the refresh rate on a screen, the more smoothly scrolling and other animations can appear on the screen. 60Hz is the classic rate, but 90Hz and 120Hz are becoming much more common, even among mid-range and budget phones like the Pixel 5a and Samsung Galaxy A32. The higher the refresh rate, the more time your screen refreshes its content in a minute, but it can also use more battery.
Another feature that you might not find in spec sheets is the screen’s maximum brightness, but it’s important for anyone who spends much of their time outdoors. If a screen doesn’t get very bright, it’ll be hard to read outside, but high-brightness modes are also handy when watching HDR content as you’ll get a wider dynamic range and be able to make out details better. You don’t necessarily need a screen that can reach 1,500 nits like the S22 Ultra, but 800 nits is a nice goal if you need to reliably, regularly use your phone outside in full sun.
Q: Why you should look at reviews, not spec sheets, for battery details
The brighter your screen, the more power it consumes. However, battery is more than just a number on a spec sheet; be sure to read the reviews and see how that battery fares in actual use in reviews. While a good power bank or a fast phone charger can somewhat offset a smaller battery, nothing can replace getting a phone with a proper battery life from the start.
Smaller phones are more prone to weaker battery life — smaller housings mean less room for battery, after all — but larger phones aren’t immune to poor optimizations or power-hungry chipsets guzzling power like cheap beer at a baseball game. While sometimes software optimizations can mitigate some of that power drain, it won’t fix it all, which is why it’s best to avoid it if you can.
If you want phenomenal battery for less, look to the Pixel 5a.
Q: Why is software such a subjective category? And which updates matter?
Google’s done its best to try and standardize Android as much as it can, but Samsung One UI, OnePlus OxygenOS, Google Pixel, and most Android manufacturers have distinctly different visual designs and feature sets. Because visual design really comes down to preference, reviews of Android software can vary quite a bit from person to person.
For instance, some users can’t stand how One UI behaves towards most third-party launchers or how over-stuffed Samsung’s apps and features are, flocking instead to the Pixel 6, its cleaner design, and automatic call screening (which is a US-only feature for now). However, Samsung is the most popular Android phone manufacturer, and tens of millions of users like how One UI lays out your apps, widgets, and some system settings that are even more advanced than Google.
If you like how your Android phone looks now, you’ll likely want to stick with that brand. If you’ve been as annoyed with One UI as I have, this is the time to try something new, especially considering the best Android phones receive updates for longer than ever before.
When looking at a phone’s promised updates, it’s important to remember a few things. Platform updates are updates to the features and Android level of your phone; the Pixel 6 series gets at least three years of platform updates while the Galaxy S22 series will receive for five years after its launch.
Security updates are updates that patch vulnerabilities and fix bugs, and these are arguably the more important updates to consider. A three-year-old phone getting the latest version of Android might bog it down, but security updates shouldn’t change how anything looks or performs on your phone. All phones in our best Android phones lineup will receive five years of security updates.
Q: How much RAM and storage does a phone really need in 2022?
Random Access Memory (RAM) is short-term storage, it stores the data of whatever you're doing on your phone right now — both on-screen tasks and background tasks like checking for notifications and finding Wi-Fi networks to connect to. When your RAM fills up, apps and processes running in the background are ended as the phone clears the necessary space for new tasks.
Most flagship phones these days ship with 8-12GB of RAM, but for most users, 6-8GB is just fine so long as you're not constantly gaming. If you're looking at budget Android phones, 4GB of RAM is okay but 6GB is better. Some sub-$200 phones are still selling with 2GB of RAM, but that will severely limit your experience.
How much long-term storage you need grows more important among the best Android phones as fewer and fewer premium phones include a microSD card slot for expandable storage. Manufacturers have done this in the name of saving space and providing a more stable experience — and they're not wrong, microSD storage is always slower than internal, and a corrupted/broken card can screw up your phone — but it also provides them the chance to upsell you on a more expensive configuration of their phones.
For everyday users, 64GB of storage works adequately, but 128GB is better, especially when offered at a reasonable upcharge, those who prefer to keep as much of their data local and offline as possible will prefer 256-512GB. The biggest storage hogs on a phone tend to be videos, music, and photos, and for photos, at least, you can keep local space free by employing an automatic photo backup service like Google Photos, Amazon Photos, or Microsoft OneDrive.